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Michael F. Scheuer (born 1952) is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies. In his 22-year career, he served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka "Alec Station"), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center. He then worked again as Special Advisor to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004.
Scheuer became a public figure after being outed as the anonymous author of the 2004 book Imperial Hubris, in which he criticized many of the United States' assumptions about Islamist insurgencies and particularly Osama bin Laden. He depicts bin Laden as a rational actor who was fighting to weaken the United States by weakening its economy, rather than merely combating and killing Americans. He challenges the common assumption that terrorism is the threat that the United States is facing in the modern era, arguing rather that Islamist insurgency (and not "terrorism") is the core of the conflict between the U.S. and Islamist forces, who in places such as Kashmir, Xinjiang, and Chechnya are "struggling not just for independence but against institutionalized barbarism." Osama bin Laden acknowledged the book in a 2007 statement, suggesting that it revealed "the reasons for your losing the war against us".
In February 2009, Scheuer was terminated from his position as a senior fellow of The Jamestown Foundation. Scheuer has written that he was fired by the organization for stating that "the current state of the U.S.-Israel relationship undermined U.S. national security."
Scheuer was born in Buffalo and graduated from Canisius College in 1974, and went on to earn an M.A. from Niagara University in 1976 and another M.A. from Carleton University in 1982. He also received a Ph.D. in British Empire-U.S.-Canada-U.K. relations from the University of Manitoba in 1986.
Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004. He was chief of the Osama bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He worked as Special Adviser to the Chief of the bin Laden Unit from September 2001 to November 2004. He is now known to have been the anonymous author of both the 2004 book Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and the earlier anonymous work, Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. After his anonymously-published books had been publicly associated with his name, he was mentioned in an Osama bin Laden statement of September 7, 2007. According to bin Laden, "If you want to understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard."
After leaving the CIA in 2004, Scheuer worked as a news analyst for CBS News and a terrorism analyst for The Jamestown Foundation's online publication Global Terrorism Analysis. He also makes radio and television appearances and teaches a graduate-level course on Al-Qaeda at Georgetown University. He also participates in conferences on terrorism and national security issues, such as the New America Foundation's December 2004 conference, "Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism After 9/11."
In 2009, Scheuer reported that he had lost his position as a Senior Fellow with the Jamestown Foundation, after "several major financial donors to Jamestown threatened to withdraw funding" if he continued in that role. The funding threats were pursuant to his criticism of Barack Obama's "dancing the Tel Aviv two-step" in allegedly kowtowing to the Israeli lobby, as well as Scheuer's disdaining of Obama's selection as Chief of Staff of Rahm Emanuel, "a U.S. citizen who during the 1991 Gulf War left America to serve in Israel's military."
Scheuer's book, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq was released on February 12, 2008.
His first book, published anonymously, is an analysis of the public discourse available on al Qaeda's ideology and strategy. In it, Scheuer explores the bin Laden phenomenon and its implications for U.S. security. He began the book in 1999 as an unclassified manual for counterterrorism officers. Due to the secrecy agreement he signed as an employee of the CIA, the book is based solely on unclassified intelligence or material available from open sources such as media reports. His main thesis in the work is that the view of bin Laden as a lunatic is a form of "myopia" that limits Western military thinkers' ability to respond to the bin Laden phenomenon. He writes that "the West's road to hell lies in approaching the bin Laden problem with the presumption that only the lunatic fringe could oppose what the United States is trying to accomplish through its foreign policy toward the Muslim world. Bin Laden's philosophy is slowly harnessing the two most powerful motivating forces in contemporary international affairs: religion and nationalism."
[T]he crux of my argument is simply that America is in a war with militant Islamists that it cannot avoid; one that it cannot talk or appease its way out of; one in which our irreconcilable Islamist foes will have to be killed, an act which unavoidably will lead to innocent deaths; and one that is motivated in large measure by the impact of U.S. foreign policies in the Islamic world, one of which is unqualified U.S. support for Israel.
In his second book, Imperial Hubris, a New York Times bestseller, Scheuer writes that the Islamist threat to the United States is rooted in "how easy it is for Muslims to see, hear, experience, and hate the six U.S. policies bin Laden repeatedly refers to as anti-Muslim:
Scheuer contends that Al Qaeda is following a martial strategy that is more rational than it is given credit for among Western politicians and media. He cites Clausewitz's dictum that one must strike one's enemy's "center of gravity", and pairs it with an al Qaeda writer's assertion that "the American economy is the American center of gravity".
In a videotape released around September 7, 2007, Osama bin Laden stated, "If you want to understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer."
Released in 2008, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq how the 2003 Iraq War has affected Al-Qaeda and the United States. He argues that the instability in the Iraq War has benefited Al-Qaeda without serving any U.S. interests.
Scheuer's views have emphasized the danger of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, as well as the ineffectiveness of U.S. policy against these imminent threats. The threat to the United States, Scheuer has consistently maintained, continues to grow, and the U.S. continually fails to grasp the nature of the struggle in which it is engaged: Islamist and anti-American sentiment continue to grow around the world, and the bin Laden movement is aimed, not at killing or conquering Americans or reforming their internal political systems, but rather bankrupting them in order to reduce their worldwide influence and thereby liberate Muslims from the yoke of American political, military, and financial influence. The failure of the U.S. to apprehend this threat is, in part, rooted in a misunderstanding and underestimation of Osama bin Laden himself. To Scheuer, Osama bin Laden's "beliefs, goals, and intentions" are
carefully chosen, plainly spoken, and precise. He has set out the Muslim world's problems as he sees them; determined that they are caused by the United States; explained why they must be remedied; and outlined how he will try to do so. Seldom in America's history has an enemy laid out so clearly the basis for the war he is waging against it.
Scheuer's criticism of U.S. foreign policy includes a sweeping condemnation of the invasion of Iraq, which he has characterized as a "Christmas present" to Osama bin Laden's Islamist recruitment efforts, and a validation of bin Laden's claims that the U.S. is at war with Islam. From his personal involvement in background research in the run up to the war, Scheuer states that "there was no connection between [Al Qaeda] and Saddam."
U.S. rhetoric about bin Laden's allegedly "hating freedom" has also irked Scheuer, who suggests that those "willing to give their lives to destroy the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia... must want freedom in some kind of way." This erroneous rhetoric, according to Scheuer, is not only to be found in the media and among politicians, but even in the 9/11 Commission report, in which bin Laden and his followers are identified "as takfiris, who kill Muslims if they don‘t agree with them. They‘re not takfiris. They‘re just very devout, severe Salafists and Wahhabis."
The insistence on referring to al Qaeda and the Islamist movement around it as a terrorist group or terrorist movement has also been a mistake, according to Scheuer. The U.S. is faced with an insurgency, rather than mere terrorism.
Speaking on the BBC news on Nov. 9, 2012, Scheuer criticised what he called the Obama administration's deceit about the threat from Islamic militants, and misleading the American people in his first administration by claiming that the word "jihad" had nothing to do with military affairs, and that it had to do with "self reform and community improvement, which was a blatant lie."
Further controversy was provoked by Scheuer's blog post for Dec. 23, 2013, on his website Michael Scheuer's Non-Intervention.com, which begins with a quotation from Titus Livy, “We can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them.” 
The blog post is devoted to what Scheuer presents as the dangerous actions of U.S. President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron and ends with what can fairly be taken as a call for their assassination, however unlikely. Scheuer writes: "As they head further down the road of losing wars and wrecking Anglo-American liberties, Messrs Obama and Cameron and their supporters in all parties would do well to read the words of the great 17th century English republican Algernon Sidney"
"If he [a political leader] be justly accounted an enemy of all, who injures all; he above all must be the publick enemy of a nation, who by usurping power over them, does the greatest and most publick injury that a people can suffer. For which reason, by an established law among the most virtuous nations, every man might kill a tyrant; and no names are recorded in history with more honor, than of those who did it."
Scheuer has been critical of the Bush and Clinton administrations for not killing bin Laden, for costly and disastrous policy missteps, and for not taking decisive measures to defend the country. He states that Clinton had eight to ten opportunities to kill bin Laden prior to September 11, and Bush had one opportunity thereafter. Richard A. Clarke and the Clinton administration, according to Scheuer, thwarted the CIA's ambitions to kidnap or kill bin Laden when they had the chance. According to Scheuer,
Clarke's book Against All Enemies is also a crucial complement to the September 11 panel's failure to condemn Mr. Clinton's failure to capture or kill bin Laden on any of the eight to 10 chances afforded by CIA reporting. Mr. Clarke never mentions that President Bush had no chances to kill bin Laden before September 11 and leaves readers with the false impression that he, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, did their best to end the bin Laden threat. That trio, in my view, abetted al Qaeda, and if the September 11 families were smart they would focus on the dereliction of Dick [Clarke], Bill [Clinton] and Sandy [Berger] and not the antics of convicted September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
Of the Bush administration, Scheuer warns against assigning it full responsibility for the nation's troubles since September 11, 2001. Although the "unprovoked attack of Iraq" will forever be remembered as "infamous", as will Dick Cheney's "reptilian contention that Americans who criticize U.S. foreign policy are 'validating the strategy of the terrorists'," according to Scheuer, a "bipartisan governing elite", both Democratic and Republican, is to blame for the nation's woes. (Notwithstanding the bipartisan responsibility, Scheuer comments, "the thought of what history will say about Donald Rumsfeld's tenure at the Department of Defense ought to make his relatives shudder down to their latest generation.")
In 2007, Scheuer said "The Iranians are no threat to the United States unless we provoke them. They may be a threat to the Israelis. They‘re not a threat to the United States. The threat to the United States, inside the United States, comes from al Qaeda....These people are going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States, and we're going to have absolutely nothing to respond against."
Scheuer has stated that the Mearsheimer and Walt paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy is essentially correct. Israel, according to Scheuer, has engaged in one of the most successful campaigns to influence public opinion in the United States ever conducted by a foreign government. Scheuer said to NPR that "They [Mearsheimer and Walt] should be credited for the courage they have had to actually present a paper on the subject. I hope they move on and do the Saudi lobby, which is probably more dangerous to the United States than the Israeli lobby."
In Marching Toward Hell, Scheuer laments "the war in Iraq that was instigated by U.S. citizen Israel-firsters and their evangelical Christian allies". He continues,
Because both U.S. political parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Israeli government, there is no large-scale U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in the cards... If you doubt this, keep in mind the name Rahm Emanuel. Slated to be the president-elect's chief of staff, Mr. Emanuel has labored as a volunteer for AIPAC's various anti-U.S. causes, strove to ensure the defeat of anti-Iraq War Democratic congressional candidates in 2006, and in 1991, as a 32-year-old U.S. citizen, chose to serve with the Israeli Defense Forces rather than volunteer to fight for the United States in the war against Saddam's Iraq.
In April 2009, Scheuer participated in the Doha Debates at Georgetown University, where he debated for the motion "This house believes that it is time for the USA to get tough on Israel" with fellow speaker Avraham Burg. Speakers against the motion were Dore Gold and Alan Dershowitz. Burg and Scheuer won the debate, with 63% of the audience voting for the motion. During the debate, Scheuer suggested that "the war in Iraq is the responsibility of the American fifth column that supports Israel" and accused Dershowitz of being part of this "fifth column". Dershowitz responded that he opposed the war in Iraq, that "more Jews than any other ethnic group in America opposed the war in Iraq" and that Scheuer was engaging in "bigotry."
Thomas Joscelyn of Weekly Standard wrote a critical piece on Scheuer and an interview Scheuer did on Chris Matthews Hardball. According to Joscelyn, Scheuer's claims that "there was no evidence of a relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda", in various interviews, "directly contradicted" Scheuer's earlier assertions, in his first book, in which Scheuer "cited numerous pieces of evidence showing that there was, in fact, a working relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda."
Scheuer wrote about a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in his 2002 book. Yet when interviewed in 2004 he stated that he had found no evidence of a Saddam/al-Qaeda connection. Tim Russert asked Scheuer to explain the seeming contradiction on Meet the Press (30 November 2004):
Scheuer explains more fully in the revised edition of his 2002 book the exhaustive study of the evidence of Iraq-al-Qaeda cooperation that eventually led him to the conclusion that there was no relationship between the two forces:
Scheuer has stated his objection to any involvement by the US in the Libyan insurgency, being particularly critical of the work of United States' UN representative Susan E. Rice, calling the whole affair "none of our business" and essentially a "recruiting tool for terrorists." His overall view being that the interests of US foreign policy are far better served by the current status quo, whereby the existing autocratic regimes are better able to suppress the threat he perceives from Al Qaida incursion than western style democratic systems. Scheuer believes that, irrespective of NATO ostensibly leading the bombing operations, "in the Muslim world, this is Americans killing Muslims again, and it looks like it's for oil."
Scheuer penned an editorial in late December 2011 endorsing US Presidential candidate Ron Paul. He said, "Dr. Paul’s precise use of history and common sense exposes the exorbitantly costly effort to build democracies in the Islamic world for what it is; namely, Washington throwing money down the drain for a cause that is impossibly lost from the start and one that will involve us in wars where we have no interests." 
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